Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Orleans 1885: The Exposition Continues.....

As projected, the New Orleans exposition re-opened in the autumn of 1885, under new management and re-named the North, Central and South American Exposition. After purchasing the existing buildings for $125,000 in July, the new corporation opened the revised exposition on November 10th, with Samuel H. Buck occupying the position of Director-General. In contrast to its predecessor, the new exposition permitted a much broader variety of displays, and relaxed the rather strict rules of exhibit classification. Many new exhibits, and features of pure entertainment value, were introduced. A baseball-park was constructed at the center of the existing race-course, and several evening pyrotechnic shows were added; including a dramatic production of "The Last Days of Pompeii", featuring numerous types of fireworks. In the Main Building, displays from eighteen foreign nations were complemented by collective exhibits from numerous North American cities; and new exhibits were added to the Machinery and United States sections. The Government & States Building was renamed the States Exhibits Building, and contained displays from thirty-eight states & territories; with the majority of the building's interior re-arranged after removal of the United States Government exhibit. The Educational, Woman's, and Colored People's departments were also expanded and improved. In Art Hall, many new works of art were displayed; and a comprehensive Creole exhibit consisted of historical relics, antiquities, and furnishings collected from the homes of old French families throughout New Orleans. Horticultural Hall was converted into a winter-garden, and the spacious interior landscaped with an abundance of flowers and tropical foliage. Several new restaurants and refreshment stands were added to the grounds; and an asphalt carriage-drive allowed visitors to enter at St. Charles Avenue, drive through the grounds, and disembark at the Main Building's north entrance. Another convenience for visitors was the electric railway which operated between the St. Charles Avenue entrance and Art Hall; while direct transportation to the exposition grounds was greatly improved by the opening of a steam railway line, constructed by the newly formed American Exposition Railway Company. Unfortunately, despite the exposition's re-organization and improvement, attendance soon proved to be drastically lower than expected and the event quickly began to lose money. After struggling for 4-1/2 months, the North, Central and South American Exposition closed, deeply in debt, on April 1st, 1886.

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